Two teens - Jew and Muslim - join

to help Palestinian industry, to help Israel and everyone

Thursday, 31 May 2007


He who cannot change the very fabric of his thought

will never be able to change reality,

and will never, therefore, make any progress

                -- Anwar El-Sadat

    This story is about two high school teens -- a Muslim and a Jew, 11th grade classmates.
     These youth have stretched their relationship and imaginations.
     They are making a material difference -- economic progress in Palestine, thus benefiting Israel.
     They are re-defining security, while helping humankind change the very fabric of thought on Earth.

     Tarek El Jahmi ( ) and Zander Sebenius ( ) are looking for more young adults worldwide to get involved in their initiative with them.

     The 11th graders model what most adults cannot or will not.
     The boys prove the 2005 published wisdom of Dr. Harold Saunders, who in 1991 defined "the public peace process."

Politics Is about Relationship: A Blueprint for the Citizens' Century

"In this straightforward exploration of core problems facing humanity, hope is combined with realism based on confidence in the energies and capacities of citizens outside government to meet the pressing challenges we face today."

     Sometimes youth have a hard time finding adults who will help them maintain their idealism.
     Zander and Tarek found one -- a man who would allow them to be social entrepreneurs.
     Adam Neiman, a U.S. clothing manufacturer, puts his business behind the principles of an authentic peace process.
     Al Jazeera tells Neiman's T-shirt story at .
     In Neiman's words: "We talk together.  We work together.  We live together."
     "Together," he says a lot.
     Not surprising, considering a signature logo on his T-shirts.

Published by The Jewish Advocate (Boston) -- Wednesday May 30 2007

Promoting peace one T-shirt at a time:
Social entrepreneurs seek harmony through commerce
by Kristin Erekson

     Two Buckingham Browne & Nichols students one Jewish and one Muslim have joined forces to promote a cause that they hope will help bridge the divide between Israelis and Palestinians.
     Cambridge resident Zander Sebenius, 16, and Chelmsford resident Tarek El Jahmi, 17, both juniors at BBN, have become what they call social entrepreneurs, in which they are now selling sweat-shop free T-shirts produced at a unionized factory in Bethlehem.
     The duo teamed up with Newton businessman Adam Neiman, founder of the sweatshop-free manufacturer Bienestar International Inc., which produces clothing and footwear under the label No Sweat, this fall, and have already made some successful sales locally since their partnership.
The hopes of Neiman, as well as his young counterparts, is that by providing decent jobs overseas, more Palestinian men will steer away from joining militant groups and terrorist organizations.
     I have always liked the idea of mixing social action with business, said Sebenius, who has been friends with the Neiman family for years. A lot of people are not aware of whats happening with the conflict.
     Sebenius told the Advocate that he has already scooped up Hebrew College in Newton as his first client, as the school purchased 173 No Sweat-labeled T-shirts for its Prozdor students graduation on June 3. Sebenius, who is graduating with this years Prozdor class and will be delivering a commencement speech addressing the importance of No Sweat, said he thought Hebrew College would be a great place to promote the idea that a comprise can be reached in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
     When Zander approached me earlier this winter and told me about the company, we thought it was just a really exciting opportunity, said Margie Berkowitz, director of Prozdor, who noted that the school paid $8 for each T-shirt. It makes a statement. It puts into action what we are trying to teach our kids about a hopeful peace in the Middle East. And we certainly hope to order more stuff from them next year.
     Earning roughly four percent from their sales, the boys, in partnership with Neiman, have already reached out to new clientele, such as the Hillel Council of New England, BBN, the Jewish Community Centers, and Jewish and Arabic student organizations locally and statewide.
     Theres a lot of work done on Boston-area college campuses in building bridges and [working with No Sweat] seems like a logical extension of that, said Sam Mendales, director of the Hillel Council of New England. Right now, we are just looking into how this [partnership] would work and making students aware of this potential project.
     El Jahmi, who has employed the help of his uncle to spread the word about No Sweat within the Islamic community, said that being involved in this initiative has helped him to better understand the situation in the Middle East.
     The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is what my relatives always talk about, El Jahmi added. Becoming involved with No Sweat seemed like a good idea because not only can you make a profit and have a good time, but you can also help people in other parts of the world.
     Neiman noted that he now hopes to take the teens prototypes reaching out to schools and student organizations and further the project.     And, of course, he admits that he couldnt have built up his business without them. Reporting the companys revenue in 2005 as approximately $1.5 million, Neiman said he is planning to quadruple that figure this year.
     There was a critical moment where nobody on my staff believed [in No Sweat], where my wife and no one in my household believed, and even my own kids didnt believe, Neiman added, but these kids believed and that helped.

For more information about Bienestar International Inc. and No Sweat, visit